ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Weston Ochse is a former intelligence officer and special operations soldier who has engaged enemy combatants, terrorists, narco smugglers, and human traffickers. His personal war stories include performing humanitarian operations over Bangladesh, being deployed to Afghanistan, and a near miss being cannibalized in Papua New Guinea. His fiction and non-fiction has been praised by USA Today, The Atlantic, The New York Post, The Financial Times of London, and Publishers Weekly. The American Library Association labeled him one of the Major Horror Authors of the 21st Century. His work has also won the Bram Stoker Award, been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and won multiple New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards. A writer of more than 26 books in multiple genres, his military supernatural series SEAL Team 666 has been optioned to be a movie starring Dwayne Johnson. His military sci fi series, which starts with Grunt Life, has been praised for its PTSD-positive depiction of soldiers at peace and at war. Weston likes to be called a chaotic good paladin and challenges anyone to disagree. After all, no one can really stand a goody two-shoes lawful good character. They can be so annoying. It's so much more fun to be chaotic, even when you're striving to save the world. You can argue with him about this and other things online at Living Dangerously or on Facebook at Badasswriter. All content of this blog is copywrited by Weston Ochse.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

My All-inclusive, All-Expenses-Paid Health Resort Called Deployment to Afghanistan or How I Lost 35 Pounds Thanks to the Taliban, Bad Food, and Good Exercise

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How I Lost 35 Pounds Thanks to the Taliban, Bad Food, and Good Exercise

Before I came to Afghanistan I used to joke that I was going to an All-Inclusive, All-Expenses-Paid Health Resort. I wasn’t kidding. Although I said it tongue-in-cheek, my plan was to treat Afghanistan as just that – a free resort supplied by my government where I could either lie on my ass and watch re-runs of television on my computer, or I could do everything I could to better myself, so that when I left I’d be that much closer to the man I want to be.

My First Month
Don’t get me wrong. I’m pretty happy with who I am. I’m 48 years old. I’m extremely successful in my Defense Department job. I’m an author with books in print world-wide with an ever increasing fan base. I have terrific kids, a pretty awesome mom and dad, three fabulous dogs and the most amazing wife ever.

“So what’s the issue?” you ask.

I like my life so much I want to be around to be in it for a long long time.

“So what’s the issue?” you ask again.

Somewhere between being an athlete and a martial artist and a success I became a man who weighed 275 pounds and got winded climbing a flight of stairs. I was closer to being a contestant on The Biggest Loser than I was to winning the lottery. Oh sure, I joked about how much a monetary investment I put into my body—good wine, good food, good times. But I forgot to realize that with everything there has to be a balance.

This doesn’t mean that if you have good you have to have bad.

But it does mean that if you’re going to treat your body like a massive caloric repository, you need to treat it nicely or else you might not have a body to treat.

And by treat it nicely we don’t mean beat it to shit at the gym so you promise never to return. That’s happened way too often in my life. In this world of instant food, instant entertainment, instant knowledge and instant communication it seems ridiculously old school that our bodies can’t be instantaneously changed, but that’s the way we were made. And although scientists have designed cars which can park themselves, they haven’t designed a body which can exercised itself (but I’m on the lookout).

Well, it’s been just over 90 days since I left for Afghanistan. I came here weighing 275 pounds. I now weigh 240 pounds. For those who might be math-challenged that’s a 35 pound weight loss.

So how’d I do it?

First let me explain how I got to be a 275 pound man.

Food. Wine. And sloth.

After 60 Days
Okay, maybe sloth is too harsh a term, but I like it and it’s my body so I’m going to use it. You see, I’d come home tired at the end of a long day or a long week. I’d have a glass of wine or a bottle or two. I’d eat. Then I’d eat again. The next morning I’d wake up feeling like I was hit by the Budweiser Clydesdales. I’d promise myself I’d get to the gym that day and work out. Worst case scenario, I’d work out in the home gym I constructed. Yeah, that’s what I’d do. That’s my plan. Then I’d go to work, come home, feel tired, and hit the couch again. Somehow I’d never find the energy to work out. So instead, I’d sit on the couch with a glass of wine watching a crazy chef with spiky-bleached hair travel across the country eating his way through diners, wondering how in the hell he managed to keep so fit.

Must be good genes, I told myself. He must just be one of those guys.

Isn’t it amazing how we can fool ourselves? Never underestimate the ability of the human body to fight to retain its own weight. If we aren’t smarter it will take complete advantage of us. After all, it can make us feel good. The best we can do is make it feel bad.

Which is what worried me. I didn’t want to be in pain. I wanted to lose weight the nice way, letting my calories float into the ether, serenaded by a group of winged cherubs who looked mysteriously like Mumford and Sons.

Then I remembered a phrase from my Army days- No Pain No Gain.

Dear lord. Is that what it’s going to take to get back in shape? To change my body image? To become healthy? Does it really involve pain? Can I just get hit by a truck instead and maybe lie in a bed with a body cast for three months? I bet I’d lose weight then.

As it turns out, it doesn’t have to hurt. In fact, it shouldn’t hurt. If you’re hurting when you exercise, more than aches and pains, you’re doing something wrong.

So here are the three things which have helped me.

·         General Order #1

·         Healthy Eating

·         Healthy Exercise

General Order #1: It has a lot of words in it and says a lot of interesting things but what me and most of my friends get out of it is NO ALCOHOL. This doesn’t mean I’m going to quit drinking when I get home, but it does mean that when I’m at my health club (aka Afghanistan), I can concentrate on my body using simple math instead of adding the crazy quantum mechanical algorithms alcohol throws into it.

But how do you know you’ll be able to drink and stay healthy when you return home? Shouldn’t you join an Amish community, swear off television, and stop drinking in order to remain healthy? I suppose that’s an option. But instead, I have a better idea. I have a writer friend living in Wales who drinks and eats what he wants and exercises and writes successfully. How does he do it? He doesn’t forget to exercise. He drinks a little less. He also eats healthier. So for at least the start of this, I have someone who is living the life I want to live.

Now to get there.

Healthy Eating: It’s really simple math. It’s also crappy food. I have to admit up front that it would have been much harder to lose 35 pounds in 90 days if I was stationed in Italy, or France, or in America next to a Whole Foods. But I’m not. Even if I was, I would have still been doing this. The journey might have been a little longer and a little harder, but I’m serious. See, whenever I thought about how good something would taste or how I was missing something, I’d remind myself that I have a whole lot of time to make up for it when I get back. If I can only say no for a little while longer, I can say yes for the rest of my life.

So what’s the math? I figure out my Basal Metabolic Rate add in the calories accrued from my daily
After 45 days Here
exercise and subtract the calories which represent what I eat. As long as I end up with a negative number I’ll lose weight. If the negative number is too high, then my body might go into starvation and it will stop acting like I want to. If the number is in the positive, then I’m not losing weight. It’s simple, but like a lot of math, it depends.

What I eat is also important. I don’t eat hardly any bread, beef, or pork because it’s not good here. I don’t eat fish because I’m in a land-locked third world country with questionable transportation and cold storage and my momma didn’t raise a stupid son. But I do eat canned tuna, salmon and sardines at least five days a week. I stay away from potatoes and veggies with a high glycemic index level.  But I eat the hell out of salads, have lots of chicken, and snack on fruit. I even use Caesar dressing. Why? Because it’s only slightly higher in fat and calories than olive oil, so why not eat something that tastes better.

I also cheat one day a week. How do I cheat? I have a Pizza Diavolissima from Ciano’s. This is an authentic Italian pizza with pepperoni, mozzarella and blue cheese, and hot red peppers. And yes, I usually eat the whole thing. I do this when the mess hall has Mexican night because, well, it’s either that or not eat at all.

Healthy Exercise: Yoga and cardio. In fact, I do Diamond Dallas Page Yoga (DDP Yoga), or Yoga for Real Guys (YRG YOGA). They’re the same program, marketed under two different names. This is power yoga with isometrics, pushups, and complete body investment. I do this six days a week. Not only is it a great introduction to yoga, but both the videos and the audios of the workouts are easy to follow. So imagine me with my yoga mat in the gym plugged into Diamond Dallas Page yelling at and encouraging me through each and every move. Trust me. I got plenty of funny looks. So what.

I also do cardio. I’ll eventually get around to lifting weights, but I wanted to concentrate on my legs. Since they are my platform, and they’ve been broken since the Veteran’s Administration decided I was a 70% disabled veteran because of what the U.S. Army did to me, I wanted to get my legs and feet right. So I’ve been concentrating on my cardio. I spend a minimum of 30 minutes on the treadmill every workout. Most times I walk real fast, but sometimes I run. Not a lot, but some. I hope to eventually run  the entire period. I also do Stairmaster for 20-30 minutes, especially if it’s a day without Yoga or a day where I do a short workout (25 minutes) vice a long workout (55 minutes).

In fact, I’ve bought some toe shoes and have started running in them.

So that’s me. That’s what I’ve done so far.

I have 90 more days to go. I have a pretty significant goal, one which I set when I first arrived. If I stay focused, I should be able to achieve it. The reward is who I get to be when I return and I can’t wait.

Any questions? Comments? WTFs?

 *   *   *

Please Note: This article is © copyrighted by Weston Ochse. Any reproduction in whole or in part without the author’s permission is prosecutable by public law. If you'd like to borrow part of this or see it reprinted, contact me here. Thank you.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Afghanistan - The Halfway Mark - 33 Things I've Learned

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33 Random Things I've Learned While On Deployment to Afghanistan

Today is the mid-point of my deployment to Afghanistan. I wasn’t really counting the days until now. I could have. There are plenty of products which enable you to do so, to include the Donut of Misery—an excel-based donut circle which counts down every day, interminably, that does more to remind you have how much time you have left, then how much time you have to go. But I didn’t want to put myself through any unnecessary mental anguish.

Tomorrow starts my countdown. I’ll start paying attention at that point and begin making plans.

This makes 90 days in Afghanistan and 121 days away from home.

These are some of the things I’ve learned during that time:

·         My agency has some of the best training. Learning how to drive, crash, shoot and move was not only a blast, but it made me better able react in the event of an attack.

·         There should be an IQ test for those attending the above training so other people don’t have the experience of someone firing at a target over your shoulder because they think it’s their turn.

·         Fried Bologna sandwiches made in rural Virginia are magnificent.

·         Cedar Lodge and The Harmons were put here on earth to nurture the hurt, wounded, and wanting.

·         Driving into Kabul is more fun than a Six Flags ride.

·         The OSTs are manned with enough handsome, muscular, tattooed young men with six figure salaries that if American women ever found out, they’d charter their own planes to Afghanistan.

·         Too many deployed persons don’t realize that if they act like assholes they’ll get treated like assholes.

·         My grandfather once told me to never be rude to the people who do your shoes, your hair, or your clothes. This is never truer here. And assholes wonder why they’re missing clothes in their laundry bags. (See above)

·         Mexican Food made my Indian contractors in an Afghani mess hall is less palatable than pre-chewed Chinese food at a nursing home.

·         If you can’t lose weight while deployed, you’re a glutton.

·         Don’t brag when you’re in a war zone or you’ll get called on it right away.

·         Don’t watch the eyes. Watch the hands. If you can’t see the hands, get ready.

·         Hewlett Packard won’t believe you when you claim you’re in Afghanistan.

·         Face time is free and the best way to communicate to a loved one or your publisher in New York.

·         If you’re doing Power Yoga in the gym, people will look at you strangely the first dozen times, then approach you meekly and ask to be let into the secret.

·         If they’re serving you fish in the mess hall and you’re in a land locked country, it’s like playing Russian roulette with your digestive system.

·         Perspective: When you’re in a place where people want to kill, wound, maim and mutilate you, you tend to realize what things back home really matter, don’t matter, who matters and who doesn’t.

·         It’s amazing how much someone can invest in being angry about something when they have absolutely nothing to lose. It establishes relevance.

·         Haggling in the markets and bazaars is a national sport and a fun game to play with prizes at the end.

·         If you’re walking upstairs, make sure the asshat in front of you doesn’t have his rifle slung over his shoulder with the barrel pointing at your head.

·         It’s cruel and unusual punishment to have a Belgian National Day celebration with free alcoholic Belgian beer in a country where General Order #1 precludes you from drinking alcohol.

·         Never ever ever ever ever have another war in a Muslim country (see above).
Download this novel now and
save it for later.


·         Bandwidth and download limits are more precious than gold.

·         You see people at their best and worse. You forgive them their worst, and love them at their best.

·         No matter how sucky your day is, think of the Army private at a forward operating base staring through a gun sight and remember that he wishes he was you.

·         You cherish the love of your wife, husband, or significant other above everything else.

·         You realize everything you are sacrificing and find it worth spending a time in hell if only because your presence will help the life of a soldier, sailor, airmen or marine return safely to his family.

·         You can’t swing a dead raccoon by the tail at ISAF HQ without hitting a General Officer.

·         If you hit a General Office with a dead raccoon at ISAF HQ, there’s really nowhere to run.

·         Act professional and pleasant and no matter how bad the other person’s day is the chances are they’ll return your demeanor.

·         You don’t have to know how to do something, you just have to know how to get the answer.

·         Don’t be ugly or you’ll be remembered as that guy.

·         The fourth or fifth time you’re attacked in the early hours of the morning, you actually consider rolling over and going back to sleep.


I have 90 more days until I get a ride on my own jet plane.

Now to buckle down, concentrate, and remain safe.

See you in 90.


Cheers


Weston Ochse
Currently in
Afghanistan


* * *

Please Note: This article is © copyrighted by Weston Ochse. Any reproduction in whole or in part without the author’s permission is prosecutable by public law.

Free Preview of Iraq War Heist Novel - BABYLON SMILES

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For your reading pleasure, the prologue and first chapter of Babylon Smiles. 

Available in eBook Only
What is Babylon Smiles?  It's an Iraqi War Heist Novel. It's been compared to Kelly's Heroes and Three Kings. It’s the end of 2003. Billions of American dollars have been given to Iraq to refund their economy. Flown into Baghdad Airport, this money is transported by anonymous military trucks to banks in all the major cities. This money is unaccounted for. No one really knows all the details. So it only makes sense that someone might have a better idea about where the money should go. Enter the men and women of the 399th Transportation Company who must eventually choose between capturing Saddam Hussein or living lives of luxury. That is if they survive.

 
PROLOGUE

On March 19, 2003, the United States invaded Iraq with the intention of capturing Saddam Hussein and finding the weapons of mass destruction the Iraqi dictator had led the world to believe he had. U.S. troops took Baghdad on April 9th. Crowds cheered. Statues were pulled down. Hope was in the air. In these early days of a war that would carry on for many more years than anyone could have ever anticipated there was a feeling of joy suffusing the populace. An entire society had been freed from the vice grip of oppression. Everyone was excited for awhile. But this was before the insurgents. This was before the roadside bombs. This was before the borders opened to foreign fighters. This was before all out intercine warfare. There was a time at the end of 2003 when we all thought it would be over soon; when soldiers were on their first tour into the box, anticipating going home and never imagining that they might be forced to come back again and again; when lifelong friends were made; when American banks shipped old dollars to stabilize a new Iraqi economy; when everyone trusted everyone and shipped this money in the back of Army trucks guarded by soldiers who didn't even know what they were carrying. This was a special time in Iraq because it was a time of opportunity. This is one story of that time. The names have been changed to protect the guilty and those who survived.

"When I think of Weston Ochse, I think of a well respected member of the horror writing community, but then there's this other side of him that has spent 20-plus years serving his country in the U. S. Army... I've said before that I'm not a fan of combat fiction, but I'm a sucker for a good story and that's what you'll get in Babylon Smiles. Look for the reveal on the meaning of Babylon Smiles, too. That's kinda cool." Frank Errington, Reviewer

 
*December 10, 2003
Wednesday*



Associated Press
BAGHDAD, Iraq After a series of successful raids on Tuesday, U.S. Officials deny capturing a top member of Saddam Hussein's government. More than 2,000 American soldiers of the 173rd Airborne Brigade cordoned off the northern Iraqi city of Hawija, about 25 miles west of Kirkuk, and detained more than 20 suspected guerrillas. A source inside the unit said one of their targets had been Izzat Ibrahim, a former senior aide to Mr. Hussein who is believed to be coordinating at least some attacks against American soldiers.

1
     An explosion rocked the brick and mud-daub buildings along the sides of the dusty lane. A plume of fire and disintegrating concrete shot heavenward until all that could be heard was man-made thunder rattling across the sky.
     A camel lurched away from its tether to stand in the middle of the cracked asphalt road. Children scattered and ran behind anything large enough to hide them. A woman waddled behind a goat shack, nervous eyes gazing for the cause of the impromptu violence. A lonely soccer ball rolled from the road onto the dusty plain, carried by a vagabond sirocco. The sound of gunfire split the twilight from both heavy and light caliber weapons. Another explosion, this one smaller than the first, silenced the exchange of gunfire.  
     A 40 ton, 8-wheeled military transport truck bucked and slid as it took the corner too fast. Private Schmidtke spun the wheel, fighting for control of the gargantuan HEMMET. Last time he'd been this afraid, he'd been hell bent for home after getting caught poaching deer by a Texas Ranger. The private's mad eyes searched the road for mines and obstructions as his mouthed worked itself into a frenzy around a wad of chewing tobacco as he whispered to himself-- Osh Kosh By Gosh. Osh Kosh By Gosh.
     "Camel!" Sitting in the passenger seat, Private Scirrotto pointed to the beast that stood directly in their way.
     "Shit!" Schmidtke swerved, barely missing turning the half-ton ship of the desert into Bedouin goulash on the steely front slope of the truck.
     "RPG. Two o'clock," Stilts yelled. The tall black sergeant swung the fifty caliber machine gun mounted on the roof to engage the target. The thunka thunka thunkas of burning lead and tracers obliterated the doorway and anything within five feet of the man aiming the rocket propelled grenade launcher at them.
     Rather than slowing, the truck gathered speed as it plowed through the smoking remains of a Honda sedan. The HEMMET was the biggest thing on the road and nothing short of the Great Wall of China was going to stop them. Schmidtke side-swiped a tinker's cart sending wood splintering into the air, then back to the ground looking all the world like a madman's game of pick-up sticks.
Me at a bazaar in Afghanistan
     Up ahead, he spied a hand grenade dangling from an overpass. Although he couldn't see anyone, he knew there was someone nearby to pull the pin with another length of fishing line. During the first days of the war along the road to An Nassariyah this type of ambush had been something new to the U.S. forces-- nothing like a grenade exploding at windshield-level to ruin the day of a listless convoy driver.
     Schmidtke pointed but Scirrotto had already seen it. The former sniper adjusted his hold on the M24 sniper rifle, eased the 10x Leopold M3 Ultra telescopic sight to his right eye, took aim and engaged the target. The grenade ate itself in a bright display of what could have been.
Private Schmidtke's mouth returned to his private prayer as he drove. Osh Kosh By Gosh. Osh Kosh By Gosh.
     Private Scirrotto scanned the horizon. 
     Stilts scanned the sky.
 
TO ORDER YOUR COPY FOR $3.99 NOW JUST CLICK THIS LINK

Praise for Weston Ochse:

“Weston Ochse is one of the best authors of our generation.” - Brian Keene, Author of Ghoul and The Rising
“Weston Ochse is a mercurial writer, one of those depressingly talented people who are good at whatever they turn their hand to.”-Conrad Williams, August Derleth and International Horror Guild Award Winner

“Weston Ochse is perhaps the fiercest and most direct of the latest generation of dark fiction writers.” Rocky Wood , author of Stephen King: A Literary Companion.
 
“Weston Ochse is to horror what Bradbury is to science fiction -- an artist whose craft, stories and voice are so distinct and mesmerizing that you can't help but be enthralled.” - Dani Kollin, Prometheus Award-winning author of The Unincorporated Man
 
“Brilliantly rendered. What was so impressive about the piece was that I did not doubt the incredible heroism of the protagonist... nor his motivation." - Andrew Vachss on “Family Man”

“Ochse succeeds in creating a complex plot that casts a brutal overwhelming spell.” - International Thriller Award winner Tom Piccirilli on Scarecrow Gods

Raves for SEAL Team 666:

"SEAL TEAM 666 is like X-Files written by Tom Clancy: ingenious, creepy, and entertaining." - Kevin J. Anderson, #1 international bestselling author of DEATH WARMED OVER

"SEAL TEAM 666 is a wild blend of nail-biting thriller action and out-of-the shadows horror. This is the supernatural thriller at its most dynamic. Perfect!" -Jonathan Maberry, NY Times bestselling author of DEAD OF NIGHT and THE KING OF PLAGUES

 


Saturday, July 20, 2013

When I Used to be a Fisherman

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I used to be a fisherman.

I'd spend hours dreaming about it. I'd clean my rod and reel and practice casting in my driveway. I'd get up at five in the morning, just so I could beat the morning sun and be there when the fish awoke hungry.

My mother taught me how to fish when I was just a tiny git. I had a bamboo pole with a line and a bobber
I was 7 or 8 catching Perch in South Dakota
and a hook and I was crazed with fishing. In fact, when I was about three years old we lived in a place called LaGrange, Wyoming, about an hour north of Cheyenne. About two miles outside of town there was a little stream full of crappies. Every morning my mother and I would dig worms in the back yard, and every afternoon we'd go down to this stream, and I'd pull in fish as fast as I could bait my hook.

I have such amazing memories of fishing.

On my grandfather's boat on Pactola Dam, South Dakota, night fishing, pulling up so many rainbows and almost setting the boat on fire with lantern fuel.

Me and my dad fishing the Tellico River in the Appalachians. It was so rainy, no one else was fishing and we were having one of those days where only the big fish were biting and they never stopped. We had to buy a new cooler to take all of them home.

Or the day we discovered the new trout stream by the pig farms in some backwater Tennessee county, where it seemed all the trout were at least twenty inches long. The fish were there to be had as long as we were careful not to get shot.

Or when we all went camping  on Tellico again and we had to fight the water moccasins who came up on us when we were cleaning the fish one evening.

Or the last time I went fishing with my dad, when my old friend Chuck took us on his boat on the Columbia River. After three hard days of fishing, both my father and I caught 25 pound salmon.

About 15, holding up a pair of catfish I caught
on a trout rig. The big one took an hour to land.
Or the last time I went trout fishing in Rapid Creek, high above Pactola. The creek wasn't any wider than a Cadillac, but I caught a thirty five inch trout out of it, and as we walked home, we passed a boy scout troop and I saw the wonder in their eyes as they saw me carrying the fish at my side, much like I was when I was a kid, hoping to one day catch an immense fish just like the one I'd caught.

Or the time me and a friend were fishing for giant catfish on Chicamauga Reservoir. I wrote about this in a story called Catfish Gods. When I wrote it more than 15 years ago, I understood that fishing wasn't about catching.

Fishing is more about being a part of something than anything else. A fisherman cares about the water and nature more than most people. How we take care of our world directly affects a person's ability to fish.

Then there's the solitude. Although, a lot of the time when you're fishing you go with others, you're always fishing within yourself. Fishing with my grandfather on the lake or my father on a river, we always went together, but we'd end up alone. Even with one of them five feet away, it's just you, the water, your pole and the possibilities that run deep beneath the surface.

Oh, how I miss fishing.

My Father and I in 2012 on the Columbia River
So I thought a lot about fishing today. I'm not sure why. I can't tell you what brought it on. But I can say that it's something I miss terribly. I've felt incomplete without it. In fact, I'm 48 years old now and I don't even own a fishing pole. Where it went, I just don't know. One thing is for sure. You can't call yourself a fisherman without a fishing pole.

So here's my plan. I'm eventually going to leave Afghanistan. When I do, I'm going to get a fishing pole and
some new gear and I'm going to become a fisherman again. Someone better tell my wife that we might even start camping, so she can start praying I change my mind. I want to get back in touch with the beauty of nature. When you're alone on the water, quiet as you attempt to become one with the land, there's a special beauty that you become a part of.

To steal a cliche, you achieve a lightness of being you aren't normally afforded.

I want to feel this again. I want to do this again. I want to be a fisherman. Not because I want to catch anything. I've caught enough for a campfire circle full of stories. No. I want to be a fisherman because I want to be a part of the universe again. No more looking in. I want to be inside and looking out.

Weston Ochse
Currently in
Afghanistan

Monday, July 15, 2013

HP vs MOM: A New Hard Drive and We're Too Cheap to Give You a Screwdriver

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WRITTEN ON 13 July 2013:

If you haven't read up on this ongoing saga, you can read it from the this link.

So when last I left  you with the saga of my broken HP laptop, my mother had called the CEO of the company.

Did I tell you I received an email from the Vice President of Escalations.  She said two things. Your mom called  and  we read your blog.

SCORE!

I warned them, but they wouldn't listen. My mom just retired. She doesn't know what to do with herself. She's just begging for someone to give her something and HP provided it by F$cking with her son.

Plus, thanks to you all, there were over 1000 hits on my blog regarding the HP fiasco.

Needless to say, HP wasn't pleased.

So what happened, you ask.

Then the VP of Escalations asked me to call her. I explained I was in Afghanistan and couldn't use their 1-800 number. It took several times. I think she thought I was a big old fibber. I wonder how many people use this as an excuse.

So, I communicated with HP for a week, as we tried to figure out what was wrong with my system. Then they took the weekend off. Seems as if the multi-national computer corporation known as HEWLETT-FREAKING-PACKARD has no support on the weekends. I, on the other hand, had no choice but to work on the weekends. After all, I'm defending the country HP has their offices in.

Sigh. Just another sign that they don't get it.

Then we communicated another week and finally figured out that my hard drive tanked. Yep. I couldn't wait to tell them, but I had to wait. Why, you ask? another weekend.

But then the VP of Escalation didn't contact me for four more days. I guess she must have had a vacation. When she did, she arranged for another hardrive to be sent. I asked her if she could include a screwdriver, but she said, no. We don't provide that. I explained I was in Afghanistan and that I don't have access to tools or an Ace Hardware. She ignored my comment and shipped the hard drive, stating it was going by FedEx and would be here in two days. I emailed her back explaining that all FedEx was going to do was get it into the APO system and it would take a lot longer than that, but she ignored me. Instead, I got a form letter saying that I had 10 days pack up the old hard drive and return it or else I'd be charged.

That the part was shipped on the 24th of June. The computer broke on the 8th of June. 16 Days to finally get HP to respond and help me fix their broken machine. And 16 days later, the part arrives. That's 32 days so far without a computer. 

I'm currently looking for a screwdriver small enough to replace the part. I have some friends who work IT issues. I bet they have some.

SERIOUSLY, HP, How hard would it have been to include a little screwdriver?

Weston Ochse
Currently in
Afghanistan


 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

David Gerrold About Heinlein and the Democratization of Wisdom

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I've been a fan of David Gerrold since I read the first four books of his seven book War Against the Chtorr trilogy (sic) (You have to follow and read the link to see what I mean.). I read the chtorr books while pulling duty on the DMZ in Korea. There was something about reading an alien invasion novel, while staring out across a no-man's land mined with deadly explosives and rippling with barbed wire. This was my introduction to the man, and besides Facebook, it's the only time I've ever interacted with him.

Still, he's been around, you know? He was there when one of my literary idols, Robert Heinlein, was on the convention circuit, and is able to give us rare glimpses through the porthole of time back to those moments.

He's also a forward-thinking, take-no-shit, I-have-no-patience-for-bullshit, sort of guy.  He's more in the face than I'm willing to be, but I find myself agreeing with him many more times than not. His words especially resonated when he talked about how long he'd spend researching a subject before he posted, only to have people immediately comment, in his words, he 'feel(s) insulted by the assertion that his (the other person's) ignorance is equal to my research. '

Borrowed shamelessly from Westercon 66 Website
I call this the democratization of wisdom. By commenting, a person becomes equal. Nevermind how ignorant and or assinine the remark is, in the level playing field of the internet, this comment is equal to someone else's research in some people's eyes. It's infuriating. I'm glad that Mr. Gerrold spends his time railing against it. I can't. Between my job in the military and full time writing, I do not have the energy to expend. I've long ago learned that about myself. I can choose to fight the unmitigated stupidity around me and do nothing else, or I can ignore it, and try and plod through my attempt to be the next great version of myself as a writer.

I spend most of my time ignoring it.

So thanks, Mr. Gerrold, for stepping in for this old soldier and fighting on my behalf.

Enough of my words.  Here are Mr. Gerrold's. I  hope you like them as much as I did.

The following is borrowed with permission from Mr. Gerrold:  I used to admire Robert A. Heinlein as the best writer in all of science fiction. I still admire him enormously, but after rereading several of his books this year, I became painfully aware of how he stacked the deck and depended on coincidence. Friday is a good example. It's a good read, but it's a flawed book that reveals some of Heinlein's worst habits.  
But I also knew Robert as a human being, a colleague, a mentor, a friend, and a man who loved to laugh.
But the Robert I knew lived inside the bubble of his own celebrity. And eventually, he figured out how to cope with it. He put up a wall to protect his privacy -- not just the twenty foot high electric fence surrounded by a moat filled with rabid crocodiles, but a psychological fence as well. He didn't answer his mail, he had a printed form with check boxes. And his phone number was given to only those he wanted to talk to.
But when he went to cons, he was gracious to everyone -- well, almost everyone. Robert demanded courtesy from the people around him. He demanded a standard of integrity from himself and from those he interacted with. 
I will never compare myself with Heinlein, because I still admire him so much, but I have begun to understand why he was so firm about his own rules. First of all, there were many people who wanted to interrogate him, challenge him, confront him, argue with him, correct him, or just suck up the oxygen around him.  

That might be flattering if you've never recovered from your Junior High School self-esteem issues -- but if you're honestly interested in the adventure of humanity and the thrills of discovery that science makes possible, then that kind of attention is worse than useless, it's annoying. It uses up time that would be better spent peering through telescopes or seducing redheads. For a working writer, that's a slow kind of soul death, like being gummed by tribbles.  
I've said more than once that I'm not interested in an argument. And there are two reasons. The first is that I'm not interested in an argument. It's annoying. There's only one of me, but apparently there are several hundred people who follow my posts and who want to argue with me. It's time consuming. It's annoying. It sucks the oxygen out of the room. And while some people might like the idea of having an argument with some famous author, the famous author is exhausted. Maybe not by the first argument or even the third, but certainly by the thirtieth. Any author can tell you this -- I hate having the same conversation over and over and over. Especially with people who aren't interested in listening, only arguing.  
But the second reason I don't like arguments is that too often, I end up feeling insulted. 90% of what I do is research. (The other 10% is lying awake nights planning revenge.) When I post something here, it isn't just a casual observation -- it's usually the final percolation of months of consideration. I'll have prowled the dark corners of the web as well as the brighter locii. I'll have read both sides. I'll have taken the time and made the effort to examine the logic (or lack of) on both sides (or more) of the issue. I'll be looking for the human side, the humane side, the compassionate side because that's who I am. I'm looking for the compelling evidence that makes the case. So eventually, when I finally post what I'm thinking, it's a distillation of those conclusions. 
So when someone comes along and reads my post and immediately starts typing -- without having done the same research, working on the assumption that I need to be educated on the issue -- yes, I feel insulted. I feel insulted by the assertion that his ignorance is equal to my research.  
Robert once said to me, "We can't have this conversation because you don't know what you're talking about." He was right. I hadn't done my research. Now I was willing to listen and be educated, but Robert wasn't obligated to teach me. He pointed me toward the source material and told me to go educate myself. That's a lesson that struck home.
I am not "the famous author." I'm a working stiff. I tell stories. Like Robert, I'm competing for your beer money. If you like what I write, that's nice for both of us. If you don't, that's okay too. But Bob Dylan said it best, "Just because you like my stuff doesn't mean I owe you anything." I don't.  
What you owe me -- and every other human being on the planet -- is respect. Courtesy. Dignity. Grace.  
Some people have said that respect must be earned. They have it bass ackwards. It is disrespect that must be earned. Unfortunately it is too easy to earn it and too many people have earned more than they should.
Some more of Mr. Gerrold's work
But if Robert was a role model for me as an author -- yes, he was -- then he was also a role model for me as a human being caught in the limelight. (Limelight contains kryptonite.) Like Robert, or any other author who has earned an audience, I have discovered the necessity of holding the audience at a careful distance -- not because I do not like the audience, but because I do not like those who presume an invitation to argue.
When I say I'm not interested, I mean it. There's no payoff for me. I'd rather play "show me the belly" with the terrier. That's more fun, more rewarding, and gets my ears and nose washed.  
Now I gotta go. One of the alligators in the moat is choking on one of the neighbor's kids and I've gotta go do a Hamlisch maneuver. (That's where I run to the piano and do three choruses of "What I Did For Love.")

If you've never read Mr.Gerrold's books then you should really start. I'd begin with A Matter for Men. But you've probably experienced his work withouth knowing it. He made Tribbles part of the popular lexicon. He's writtten for Star Trek (Original), Babylon 5 and Land of the Lost, to name a few. He's as fine an imagimatist as there is.

Thanks for reading this blog.

Now go read one of our books.

Weston Ochse
Currently in
Afghanistan 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Monster Tuesday -- Eat or Be Eaten!!

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Okay you crazy kids. Listen up! Pay attention. There's going to be a test at the end of this and you better not fail!

Available on eBook and AudioBook
I'm getting ready to repost an article by an author I adore, David Gerrold. It's about his impressions of Robert Heinlein and a bunch of other stuff. But before I do that, let me explain something.

Several people have said that Blaze of Glory reminds them of David Gerrold's War Against the Chtorr series. I suppose it does, although my imagination was far more limited than Mr. Gerrold's in his books. I admit that I did read them. I admit that I love them. I also admit that the medium-sized versions of the maggies have a passing resemblance to the Chtorr.

But that's it.

You want to read a faced-paced, character-driven novel that was almost made into a movie by Wesley Snipes, then read Blaze of Glory. And then read the essay at the end that explains the horrid story why, involving Reggie Bannister, a fire, a lawyer in a shark skin suit, and a naieve young soldier.

You want to read grand saga of world domination by a supposed alien invasion, then please go grab Mr. Gerrold's series. You can find them linked here at his site.

To summarize.

Blaze of Glory good.

Blaze of Glory compared to War Against the Chtorr- outstandingly good, but maybe they were smoking a little something.

Blaze of Glory for only $2.99.

Blaze of Glory on audibook. Listen to the opening chapter for free.

Cover art courtesy of professional photographer and digital artist Danielle Tunstall. Ask me about how easy it is to work with her.

Cover design by me.

And if you really want something special, try out the new novel by the author of God's and Generals and The Killer Angels, Jeff Shaara, also called Blaze of Glory, about the Battle of Shiloh. I already ordered my copy.
 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Examiner.Com Blows Me Away

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I can't ask for any better than this--

"Weston Ochse is quite simply one of the best writers around today. He has the ability to write touching and inspiring tales or stories of adventure and intrigue. “Border dogs: A SEAL Team 666 adventure” is a great story for a very low price. If you have not read the novel, you will still be able to enjoy the story and get a sample of what you are missing. I knew I was in for a treat when I stumbled across this one and I was not disappointed."

From a review of Border Dogs at Examiner.Com. Follow the link to read the whole review.

For those of you who are pining away for more SEAL Team 666 action, have you read Border Dogs? You can either read it free online at Tor.com, or spend .99 cents  if you want to read it on your kindle. It's a prequel story that takes place along the Mexican-American Border, featuring chupacabra. Love these little rascals.

And if you've already read this and SEAL Team 666, make sure you pre-order SEAL Team 666: AGE OF BLOOD. As always, the popularity of the series is in your hands. Before they let me write another one, folks like you need to vote by ordering.

And if for some reason you haven't read the original SEAL Team 666, welcome back from your alien abduction. :)  You can find it here at one of your favorite local bookstores. Just follow this link to Indiebound and it will get you there.


Cheers.

And thanks for Reading.

Weston Ochse
Currently in
Afghanistan


 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Happy 4th of July from a 7th Grader

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We sometimes get cards and letters from school kids. They're really pretty cool. I always take a moment to read at least one of them when they come in because it reminds me of when I was a kid.

I picked this one up today. It's written by a young man named Chris. He's in 7th grade somewhere.


Here's what it says-

Dear Dude,

Thanks for supporting our country. I'm with you on this. I really want you to be a strong warrior and keep going. It sucks that you have to be there. I'd be there two (sic), but I'm in 7th grade and my math teacher won't let me. Anyway, I hope you are healthy through the holiday. We're having a cook out at my house. My dad makes hot dogs and hamburgers. If you are alowwed (sic) to have hot dogs, think of me when you eat one and I'll think of you.

Love you, Chris

I love it when he says 'I'm with  you on this.' So mature. So perfect.

I hope I have a hot dog tomorrow. If I do, I'll silently salute you, Chris. 

Happy 4th of July.

Love you too, bro.

Weston Ochse
Currently in
Afghanistan